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Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Paramount Studios presents
South Park: The Complete Fourth Season (2000)

Stan: What the hell just happened?
Kyle: Damn. I thought fourth grade was going to be different.

- Trey Parker, Matt Stone

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: July 07, 2004

Stars: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Eliza Schneider, Mona Marhsall
Other Stars: Richard Belzer, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Malcolm McDowell
Director: Trey Parker, Eric Stough

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, violence, mature themes and situations)
Run Time: 06h:15m:01s
Release Date: June 29, 2004
UPC: 097368798946
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+A-B+ B+

DVD Review

The long-running animated series South Park seldom fails to be shocking, appalling and, well, darned funny. Using a quartet of foul-mouthed eight-year-old kids, Eric Cartman, Stan Marsh (voiced by Trey Parker), Kyle Broslofski and Kenny McCormick (voiced by Matt Stone), every taboo subject under the sun is skewered in one way or another. The fourth season finds things rejuvenated and quite a bit funnier than the somewhat lackluster third season, during which the participants were preoccupied with the film version of the series.

The first half of the season introduces the highly popular character Timmy, a retarded boy in a wheelchair who can usually only say his own name. Despite his condition, Timmy becomes an unlikely rock star and idol of millions in Timmy 2000. The condition of Timmy's soul is the focus of a two-part episode (Do the Handicapped Go to Hell and Probably), set against the equally improbable romantic triangle between Satan, Saddam Hussein, and a guy named Chris. Although I don't much like the Timmy character, I know he has his fans and they'll certainly be happy to get these pivotal episodes.

The second half (the last seven episodes) finds the boys being promoted from third to fourth grade, although not much really changes other than the theme song and their teacher: the closeted Mr. Garrison is exposed as a member of NAMBLA and demoted to teaching kindergarten, while the boys get the saggy-breasted Ms. Choksondik instead. This change sets up some of the funniest episodes, including the wildly bizarre Terminator satire, Trapper Keeper, as Cartman's Dawson's Creek trapper keeper is revealed as the mechanism that will conquer the world. The Thanksgiving episode, Helen Keller: The Musical is both gross and politically incorrect, while also being very funny and poignant as Timmy shows his love for his deformed pet turkey, Gobbles.

South Park is often at its best when satirizing popular culture. Cherokee Hair Tampons pokes fun at New Age and alternative medicines (with guest stars Cheech and Chong), while Fingerbang gives the works to boy bands. Phil Collins may well regret having won the Best Song Oscar over Blame Canada from South Park: Bigger Longer Uncut, given the merciless attacks upon him in the early part of the season. The Wacky Molestation Adventure takes on Children of the Corn, while one of the more unusual episodes, Pip, provides an unusual interpretation of Great Expectations, though it's surprisingly faithful other than the robot monkeys. The latter episode features a live-action Malcolm McDowell as the Masterpiece Theater host, A British Person. McDowell is hilarious in his deadpan delivery of utterly ridiculous lines.

The other area in which this season excels is in poking fun at current events, though these require a recollection of what happened in 2000 for the most entertainment. The fast turn-around because of the animation style permitted the team to react almost immediately to the weirdness in the news. The Elian Gonzalez story makes its way into Quintuplets 2000 in the form of Romanian contortionist quintuplets, while the Confederate flag controversy rears its head in Chef Goes Nanners as Chef (Isaac Hayes) shows resentment for the South Park flag that depicts a black man being lynched. The 2000 election controversy also enters into the B-story of Trapper Keeper, as an election for kindergarten class president gets ugly in the vote counting. The odd thing about this series is that while right-wing political comedians are seldom funny in the least (think Dennis Miller), the conservative views of Parker and Stone nevertheless are used to hilarious effect throughout. It helps that they're constantly pushing the margins of taste and sanity, giving the humor a libertarian edge.

Although a few guest stars do make an appearance (most of them are listed in this review), for the most part Parker and Stone don't fall into the trap of The Simpsons of shoehorning a celebrity voice into just about every single episode, and when they do the voices are often unrecognizable, such as in Richard Belzer's sped-up turn as a young Mafia boss operating a Tooth Fairy scam.

One voice that's sadly missing is that of Mary Kay Bergman, who had voiced all of the females on the show for the first three years, but tragically committed suicide near the end of Season Three. While the new voices for the female characters get better, there are still some such as Mrs. Broslofski that never really sound quite right. Bergman's astonishing talents have proven impossible to replace.

The series isn't for the faint of heart or easily embarrassed. There's some bleeping of language but eyebrows will be raised by what actually makes it onto the air. The situations are often just as appalling, with vomiting, defecation, farting, sexual perversion and child molestation making regular appearances throughout the series. But if you're taste is for the outrageous, South Park definitely satisfies.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The original full-frame picture looks very nice for the most part. The simple construction-paper-like animation (though actually done through computer graphics since the first season) looks very good, with bold and bright colors and detailed texturing. The picture is clean and highly vivid. The only problem is aliasing that is noticeable on larger displays, but on the whole this looks great for a television series.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Surround audio has very nice directionality at times, with a fair modicum of surround activity. As befits 2000 animation, the audio track is very clean and crisp, without noise or hiss of any kind. The music has excellent presence and dialogue (other than Kenny's muffled voice) is usually quite plain.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 85 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English (closed captioning) with remote access
1 Feature/Episode commentary by creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone
Packaging: Digipak
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Segments from other Comedy Central programs
Extras Review: Each episode includes a mini-commentary (or commentary-mini, as they're occasionally referred to) by creators/voices Trey Parker and Matt Stone. These are somewhat lackadaisical, but frequently pretty funny, recollections of the programs. Almost none of them run longer than five minutes in duration, which is a good deal more acceptable than the full-length pointless blathering one hears on the Simpsons sets and other programs that feel compelled to comment on each and every episode for its entire duration. Sometimes the commentaries contain misinformation, such as a supposed dropping of the B-story during this season, though such B-stories are evident throughout. It's not clear to me whether this is just a memory lapse or if it's supposed to be a joke, but if it's the latter it's pretty lame.

The only other supplements are some clips from other Comedy Central shows. No subtitles, but there is English language closed captioning. Happily, Paramount not only provides a chapter stop after the titles and at each commercial break, but each disc also includes a "Play All" button.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

The fourth season sparks things up again, with new levels of hilarious outrage and sickness. The transfer's very nice, and the mini-commentaries leave one wanting more.

 


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